2 “Must Try” Healthy, Fall Dishes

Good morning! Thank you so much for all your sweet words on my post yesterday. I totally had one of those “omg we are getting married in 8 months” feelings yesterday. It’s so surreal, really. In an unbelievably, awesome way!

But, today isn’t about wedding talk. It’s about food talk. Because food talk is right up there behind health and fitness talk for me, which means I love talking about it  🙂 I have 2 recipes, both coincidentally from Alexis, over at Hummusapien.com, that have been huge hits. One of them I’ve actually made FOUR times at this point- crazy, right?!

The first one, though, is her Vegan Butternut Squash Pasta dish. I made a lot of variations to the recipe, making it not vegan in any way, shape or form, but I can only assume that if it tasted good with variations, it must taste equally as good if following the recipe to a T.

photo 1 (1)

Here are the variations I made if you’re not looking to follow a vegan diet:

  • I tried a new-to-me gluten free “pasta” made with just brown rice flower and water and you literally couldn’t taste a difference.
  • 3-4 chicken thighs, chopped into small cubes and sautéed with garlic, salt, pepper and EVOO
  • spinach, broccoli & onions- chopped small and sautéed in a pan with plenty of EVOO, salt, pepper and garlic
  • 1/8-1/4 cup shredded gruyere cheese (separated)- I added half into the amazingly delicious butternut squash/cashew/vegetable broth/maple syrup “sauce” (side note: I literally could’ve just drank that mixture- it was that good!) and then topped the casserole with the other half before I baked it.

My friends were skeptical at first because it didn’t look terribly appetizing, but everyone raved about it and went back for more- I call that a success!

The other recipe that has been a huge hit with friends and RM, specifically, are her Paleo Pumpkin Bars. As I said earlier, I’ve literally made these 4 times- sometimes with pumpkin spice chips, sometimes with chocolate chips and most recently just with pecan pieces to make them a super healthy sweet treat. I mean, can you ever have too much pumpkin?!

photo 4

These are moist, chewy and ridiculously flavorful- you really have to make these. It’s an order and you will thank me later 😉

I want to hear from you though! What’s a recipe you’re loving these days and have made more than once? Is there any that I just HAVE to try? I’d love to have some new recipes to add to our rotation!

Eats as of Late {Part II}

It’s been a hot minute since I shared my eats with you, huh? In case you missed part one, you can find it here.

I feel like RM and I have been eating out a bit more than we really want to be eating out, but now that the weather is warming up a bit (well, sometimes!), it’s just so much more fun to go out and get drinks, which usually leads to us grabbing dinner out. We leave for Italy in about 3 weeks, so I’m hoping to cut back on eating out until then. For now, here’s what we’ve been eating- enjoy!

Coconut Crusted Healthified Chicken Tenders {gluten free & dairy free}– RM came up with this recipe and he’s used it on chicken and fish and it’s quickly become a staple for us!

Coconut crusted chicken tenders

Italian Meatloaf– I came across this meatloaf from PaleOMG and I’ve probably made it 5 times at this point. Every part of it is so delicious and it’s been a great lunch meal.


In January, RM was doing the Whole30, so we were more limited with our meal options. Insert lettuce tacos! So good and so healthy.


Curry dishes have also frequented our meal rotations. We love this dish because it’s easy and healthy and just so darn tasty! We’ve made the dish with chicken and with shrimp and have decided we like shrimp the best.


These Smashed Sweet Potato Guacamole Bites from Running to the Kitchen were a HUGE hit at the Super Bowl party I went to.

Continue reading

Gluten Free, Dairy Free No Bake Chocolate Coconut Pecan Oatmeal Bars

Umm, yeah. How good do those sound?! I can assure you, they taste just as good as they sound. A co-worker brought these into work and I’ve been thinking about them ever since. I asked her for the recipe because I knew I had to make them. The recipe comes from Money Saving Mom.com, but I adapted it to make it gluten free and dairy free to see if I could tell a difference; I couldn’t. No worries there! If you don’t have the gluten free/dairy free ingredients on hand, feel free to use the regular versions 🙂

GF, DF no bake chocolate coconut pecan oatmeal bars

The recipe below is what I found at Moneysavingmom.com and my changes are in red.


  • 1 cup peanut butter-I used almond butter
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil
  • 2 cups old fashioned oats-I used gluten free oats
  • 1 cup shredded coconut-I used unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 1/2 chopped nuts, raisins or dried cranberries-I used chopped pecans
  • 1 1/4 cups dark chocolate chips- I used gluten free/dairy free milk chocolate chips
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract



1. Combine the peanut butter/almond butter, honey and coconut oil in a sauce pan. Heat over medium/low heat and stir constantly to make sure it doesn’t burn.


2. Once the peanut butter/almond butter, honey and coconut has melted, remove from the heat and add in the oats, nuts, chocolate chips and vanilla. Mix until everything is combined and the chocolate is melted.

3. Pour into a greased 8X8 inch pan and let it cool in the fridge. Store in the fridge or freezer.


Oh. My. Goodness. These things are amazing- even with the changes that I made.


If you’re looking for a good party treat or office treat, I really suggest making these because they will NOT disappoint!


It’s taken serious will power to not eat bar after bar after bar. Luckily by giving most of them away and keeping some in the freezer, it helps keep my hands off of them. I suggest you do the same!

Questions for you: What’s your favorite no-bake recipe? Are you a dark chocolate or milk chocolate fan?

Family Road Trip: Recap {Day 1- Boston to Buffalo}

Hi, friends! Phew, does anyone else feel like after a long, indulgent weekend, it’s harder to get up and get going on Tuesday than it is on Monday? My 1/2 mile walk to the T in crisp, morning air definitely helps to wake me up, though 🙂

As most of you know, last week/weekend I went on a mini road trip with my parents to Michigan for my cousin, Mary’s, wedding. I took Thursday and Friday off from work since we planned to do the trip in 2 days (so happy we did- 16 hours in the car in one day would have literally caused me to go even more crazy than I already am!).  Mom and dad picked me up around 8:30 on Thursday and we wasted no time hitting the road!


I drove the first and last legs of the trip, dad drove in the middle and mom didn’t drive. No shocker there! The trip actually went incredibly smooth, except I quickly realized that I forgot my freshly charged iPad at my apartment. I was so mad because I had just downloaded Gone Girl the night before. Womp, womp.

Traveling with my parents is great because we take lots of bathroom stops and there is never a shortage of treats 😉


Day 1 went incredibly well and fast! We stopped for a picnic lunch around 1 and made it to the hotel around 4:30. I had been waiting for lunch ever since my dad told me all the things he bought. I was absolutely blown away with how thoughtful his food shopping was! Seriously, when he saw the snacks that I packed for myself, he said I didn’t need any of them because he had already gotten them all… and more! Trail mix, granola bars (4 different boxes), crackers, deli meat, chopped veggies, dips, sandwich thins and every type of fruit you could imagine. What an amazing dad, right?!


In typical Monique fashion, I think I had a bit of everything 😉 The weather was gorgeous, wine tasted delicious and it was a great little break from driving!

The second big leg of the trip wasn’t bad at all, and before we knew it, we were at the hotel! Since my sister travels so much, she has lots of points at various hotel chains. She set us up at an awesome Residence Inn in Buffalo, NY. I asked if there were any upgrades available and lucky for us, they did! This place was seriously like an apartment (what I would do to live in an apartment like this hotel suite!).

IMG_5129 IMG_5130IMG_5131

Downstairs there was a mini kitchen, living room (with a real fire place), dining room area, bathroom and a Murphy Bed (which was surprisingly SO comfortable). Upstairs was a loft-ish bedroom and another bathroom, so this was a perfect suite to share with my parents since we had entirely separate sleeping areas.

Not long after we arrived, mom gave me my “special” bottle of wine (Estancia Chardonnay- right up there with J. Lohr for me!) and we headed out to the pool to relax and soak up the last of the sun for the day.

IMG_5133 IMG_5135

As I mentioned yesterday, I instructed my mom through a water aerobics workout which was a blast!

Once the sun went down, it started to get a little chilly so we meandered over to the hotel’s complimentary cocktail hour.


Boy do we have fun together! After the happy hour ended, we decided to order in since no one felt like getting back in the car. We went with Greek, but unfortunately, it took forever for the food to get there and by the time it eventually got to us, it wasn’t very warm or fresh. Womp, womp. Overall, though, it was a solid first day and we had lots of laughs and good conversations.

Since this post is already quite lengthy, I’ll share the rest of the trip in another post.

Questions for you: What’s the longest road trip you’ve ever been on? Nicest hotel you’ve ever stayed at? For us, it is Le Chateau Frontenac in Quebec City- Ahhhh mazing hotel!

Pampered Chef Party in NH, Apartment Hunting, Poolside, Lakeside

Hey there! I am currently en route to NYC for a quick work trip (I’ll be back tonight). How is your Tuesday looking?

Last Friday night, I got together with most of my St. Michael’s girls at our friend Nikia’s new house in New Hampshire. She and her boyfriend recently bought a brand new home in the country and WOW was it beautiful. Seriously, I couldn’t even believe it! I am so proud of all that they have done to make it “theirs”.



We got together both to see the house and to attend a Pampered Chef party. Has anyone been to one of those parties? I love Pampered Chef kitchen stuff SO much. You’ve seen the stones on my blog quite often.


The host created these delicious, healthy pepper strips that were a huge hit. They were so easy, too. She combined some ingredients, mixed them with a Pampered Chef seasoning, placed a scoop on each pepper strip and baked for 7 minutes.



I ordered a few things, but told the host to get in contact with me in Sept/Oct so I could host a party at my new place!

It’s always a fun time getting together with my SMC girls, but we missed you Kelly and Jessi! These girls are my rock- seriously we all just “get” each other, even though we are all pretty different. That’s what makes it so fun, though!


Thanks for an awesome party, Kia!

On Saturday, I woke up, packed up and headed out to see an apartment at 9 before teaching my 10am kickboxing class. Even though the apartment is a basement level, I really liked it! The ground goes at an angle so the back of the apartment is not underground at all and there is a door from the bedroom that leads out to a back patio. Everything has been recently renovated and the landlord is awesome. I have a few questions, but I think I might take it- eeek!!



After my class, I headed north and met mom and Danielle at the Mahoney’s pool. Pure bliss, if you ask me!


Mom had a whole cooler full of goodies, which I quickly dug into when I got there since I was starving!


Shortly after we finished, the other Jean and Colleen and Emma showed up! Look how stinkin’ cute she is in her little bathing suit!


We even brought her in the pool. She was loving the water and splashing her hands around!


We left there around 4 so we could head over to Sara’s house on the lake to get some Zeke snuggle time. Boy are we lucky to have so many friends with access to water!


Zeke gets cuter and cuter every time I see him!!! And he is so GOOD. Literally just sleeps and eats… barely ever cries.

IMG_4045 IMG_4052

Sara looks phenomenal. Seriously. A beaming mom for sure! I got my mommy multitasking practice in


Haha. It’s easier than you may think 😉

We took the boat out for a nice stroll before heading home.


Dad had hamburgers, hot dogs and corn on the cob ready for us upon our arrival. How’s that for fantastic service? Per usual, we had a blast laughing and joking and drinking wine!

Questions for you: Ever been to a Pampered Chef party? What’s your favorite kitchen tool? Do you prefer a pool or the lake?